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"Disgust" as Orange Hall targeted in suspected arson attack

The PSNI said it was told tyres were put against the building and set on fire.

Part of the Martin's Lane area.
Part of the Martin's Lane area.
Image: Google Maps

POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING a suspected case of arson at an Orange Hall in Newry.

The PSNI is appealing for witnesses following the fire, which broke out at the Altnaveigh Orange Hall on Martin’s Lane last night, Saturday 25 February.

Shortly after 7.15pm, police received a report that a number of tyres had been placed against the rear of the building and set on fire.

Police said in a statement:

Damage was caused to the eaves of the property as a result of the incident. Smoke damage was also caused to the interior of the building.

The Grand Lodge of the Orange Order condemned the attack.

An Orange Order spokesman said members of the local lodge were “disgusted” by the nature of the attack on their property.

This is a truly sickening incident and one which clearly had a clear sectarian motive. The moronic hate-filled individuals responsible are a blight on the local community and ought to be ashamed of their actions.

“Such naked bigotry should not be acceptable – yet, the continuous cycle of attacks on Orange property is reflective of the unending demonisation of the Institution, still very much prevalent in today’s society. This is intolerable and must not be allowed to continue.”

They added that Altnaveigh hall was the target of previous arson attacks in 1996 and 2005.

The building contains a memorial plaque to members of the lodge who were murdered during the Troubles, and an Orange parade is held every year to commemorate the killing of Protestants in the area in 1922.

DUP MLA William Irwin said he was “disgusted” to learn of the attack.

“As some shout about equality it appears it doesn’t apply to those of us who cherish our Orange culture,” he said on Facebook.

The Alliance Party’s Jackie Coade said: This sort of mindless vandalism achieves nothing but to raise tensions in the community and damage relations. Any right-thinking person will condemn it.

Nothing positive can be gained by these sorts of incidents. We need to tolerate and respect each other’s cultures and leave such senseless acts in the past.

Police are working to establish a motive for the incident. They are also appealing to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area or anyone who has any information about this incident to contact officers in Newry on 101, quoting reference number 1126 25/02/17.

Information can also be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.

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